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tv   This Week in Northern California  PBS  October 9, 2010 6:00am-6:30am PST

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finally, after the longest budget stalemate in v.a. history, lawmakers come to an agreement. public schools and public employees are hit hard. the debate tuesday between democrat, kamala harris and steve cooley brought out dramatic differences between the candidates for state attorney general. for making it illegal to sit or lie down on sidewalks to adjusting the public employees pension system, there is no shortage of controversy on the ballot in san francisco. and we will talk with the authors of "california crackup,"
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how we roreform broke the goldee and how we can fix it. those stories next. >> belva: good evening. welcome to this week in northern california. i'm belva davis. joining me tonight on our news panel are rachel gordon, city hall reporter for the "san francisco chronicle." scott shafer, host of the california report on kued public radio. and stu woo, california political reporter with the "wall street journal." we'll start with you, "state of
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the union," because you have the freshest news. that is that we have a budget and -- >> and the governor signed it just about what, an hour ago. it came on day 100 of the fiscal year. we have been operating without a budget for three months now. there's good news and bad news. the good news is in the short term, the state might just avoid ious this year. the bad news, this doesn't fix the problem for this year and might not next year because the budget relies on some assumptions that might not go through. the state is expecting in this state the federal government will chip in $5 billion, more than the legislative office said they would get and erased 1.4 billion dollars of the budget by taking a sunnier forecast of the revenue. who knows if that will hold up until june. >> these are not unusual things to happen in sacramento? >> they use these accounting
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gimmicks every year. this year, they used it by a little less and by fiscal year 2011, there will still be a big budget def. it. >> i heard the president pro-temp and relatively new speaker saying how good they felt about the budget. not a perfect document but could have been a lot worse. do democrats feel like they got some things they wanted or a year they needed to get republican votes and gave away most of what they would have liked to keep. >> if you look at the original budget, it could have been worse for democrats. arnold wanted $12 billion in cuts and now $7.5 and republicans got away without increasing taxes this year. everybody got a little of what they wanted. the big thing for democrats is the work program and i heard schwarzenegger with line-item
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veto about $1400 million for that program. >> can you tell us why that is his favorite for cuts? >> this year, he proposed to eliminate it and the year before. republicans have said california, compare it to the rest of the states per capita, the state has a lot more welfare benefits than anybody else in the country. >> this although so relies on e unions giving back. the leadership says it we're confident it will happen and much worse if we don't rad fi. is there a sense they will follow along with the leadership. how done have a deal is this budget? >> that weighs a goas a good qu the california budget and one of the things schwarzenegger said, he wouldn't sign it without the reforms. and also agreed to a deal with the sciou and any employee hired
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after november would have fewer pension benefits that current employees and combined with other agreements reached with other unions he says could save the state over $130 billion over the next years. >> that could be a leg gas. it. >> it could but nothing to stop the next governor from doing away with it with the stroke of a pen. >> present retirees will not be affected, only those coming in later. did that help him getting an agreement with the unions? >> that's correct. the unions fought hard against this and the only reason he didn't try to fight current pension benefit, tricky legal obstacles. >> what would it take for another legislature and governor to undo that? >> it wouldn't take a whole lot. one thing schwarzenegger has for him is both meg whitman and jerry brown supported these and you would think they wouldn't do
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away with it. >> for the general public in california, we saw in the last year, a lot of furlough day, wanted to go to the driver's license, might go to the dmv ad it's close? will there be higher fees? how will it be for the everyday folks. >> you won't go to the dmv on friday and find it closed. they were able to avoid of lot of state parks schwarzenegger originally proposed closed. >> we didn't talk about education? was it hit hard? >> it got about $3 billion cut from the current budget and has to be repaid over the next couple years. >> higher ed? >> higher ed has either the exact same budget this year or slightly more. >> belva: so, lots to more with the governor signing that bill right away after all these 100 days. let's turn now to the elections again. they're just a few weeks away.
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one of the races we haven't talked a great deal about, the attorney general's race and they had a big debate. scott, what's going on? >> the district attorney in los angeles and d.a. here in san francisco squared off this weekend. as different as night and day, stark differences, ying yang, whatever met for you want to use. that's the one thing they agree on and gay rights, death penalty. different kinds of people. cooly is a classic prosecutor, dag, agent and kamala harris, very young, kind of beautiful. he would not be confused for co
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cooley. very different style. not two people trying to muddle their differences. they were very clear in their debate, these two people have very different philosophies. interesting to see how the voters evaluate them. >> is this about law and order and crime or other things they would do. >> cooley would like it to be about law and order. he supports it and kamala harris opposes it but she said if he elect she would enforce the law. but kamala harris trying to pull away from tat, not her strong suit. talks about the environment and created a environment prosecution unit in the d.a.'s office and crit sisicizes him f eliminating it and talks about things liberal and moderate independent voters. gay marriage, promised to do as
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the governor and current ad did, and cooley said he would defend it. he is trying to bring it back to the law and order issues and she's trying to pull away from those. >> there are other propositions on the ballot, there is some disagreement. >> prop 19 would legalize marijuana. almost every elected official has opposed that and they oppose it. one thing they agree on. prop 23, the landmark greenhouse gas emissions law. kamala harris opposing that and steve cooley wouldn't take a position. she kept trying to push him. he said the attorney general writes these things and not smart for the attorney general to take positions. she points out you took a position on prop 19 but refused
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to do it on 13. >> harris has been involved in a series of scandals. >> she has some achilles heels. her first week in office, a police officer shot and killed and before the funeral, she said she would not seek the death penalty, consistent with what she said when she ran. the officer's family came out with a powerful statement opposing her candidacy. problems with the san francisco drug lab under the police department. her office had been warned about those problems and didn't take steps to fix it. there are other issues involving the police department and san francisco, and could harm her. you have to have money to come on television and ads to get those points across. cooley in the final weeks has more cash on hand, 1.7 million to harris's 1.3.
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he'll have the money to go on tv but will it break through. cooley as a republican has done well in los angeles, not the most conservative area of the state, los angeles proper. how has he crossed over? >> he defeated a democrat and got reelected with 59% of the vote and this last time, didn't have opposition. one of the things he's done to reach out to moderate voters, i guess, he's taken a very nuanced position on three strikes and you're out. he has more selectively sought a third strike in cases he thought it was called for. he caught a lot of flak in that from the republican primary from more conservative candidates thought she whe was soft on crid publicity. >> polling? >> it is close. field poll had pooley up by 7
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and public policy institute, very close, a large number of undecided voters. up in the air. >> belva: stay tuned for debates or other things that will help. they clearly defined their positions. and up to voters to make up your mind. >> it's always a challenge because sometimes you don't think there's a board of supervisors there. there's a long ball lot covering many issues. rachel gordon gives us an used. >> let's start with pension reforming. the most contentious with a lot of money poured into that, problem situation b put on the ballot by initiative by someone who had been the champion and darling of the left, the public defender coming up strong against organized labor on this. he wants to set in the city's charter, the city bible we want city employees to pay more into their pension system and want
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them to pay more for health benefits in san francisco. organized labor has come out very very strong against this as well as most if not all elected officials. major newsome saying it's not the right way to go against health care even though it's an extremely large cause but at the bargaining table. jeff said enough is enough. it kept skyrocketing. we have to draw the line somewhere. if we have more savings here, we can put more savings into city programs and other areas the san francisco taxpayers have been picking up the bill a long time. a fascinating race to watch. i look at it as san francisco's tea party wayne, if voters vote yes, in favor of problem situation b, it might show people generally pull the strings of the democratic party and labor unions losing luster for a pocketbook issue.
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>> belva: says something about the motion of labor. >> absolutely. labor has always been so strong in san francisco. >> one note to the elected or former elected officials opposing it, willie brown was opposing it and gonzalez. what's up with that? >> the same thing, pensions out of control. they have been long time allies and friends. i think gonzalez, when he was sworn into the board of supervisors in 2000 and took over as board president, said progressives have to remake who they are, can't just be on plastic bags, have to get to pocketbook issues and may reset what the progressive movement is about. >> let's go down the ballot. >> the labor issue, proposition g, would change the way muni
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operators get paid. right now, guaranteed the second highest transit in the nation, make a little over $30 an hour, guaranteed in the city charter. it says, take that out of the city charter, have them go to the bargaining table. if you're able to do that, management would have more leverage to get changes on work rules, discipline, scheduling, absenteeism. right now, management's hands are tied. don't have a lot of refer average. if you can't negotiate pay, you can't negotiate a lot of things. >> is that because there used to be so many incidents of muni workers walking off the job and tying up the city? >> that was decades ago. this has been in the charter for years, they can't go on strike but no rules against sick-outs or slowing down the work. >> are there any problems with changing a labor contract at the
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ballot box? something with prop b agreed to. >> a lot of people saying with problem b pension benefits there might be real legal ordinances. jeff is confident it will withstand the legal test. part of it has already been struck down by the court and going with parts not struck down with yet. >> how will average sandwiches cans be affected by this? better service? >> the $100,000 question or muni, $3 billion question. unless you have cranky drivers that don't want to be dumped on. the toughest jobs, 700 boardings a day, don't look at us. if there are changes to the work rules, there might be improvement. there are two quality of life issues, propositions l and m.
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they have to be looked at together. proposition l strongly backed by gavin newsome and the police chief would ban, as you said earlier in the show, sitting or lying on the sidewalk in san francisco between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. a police officer could come by and say stand up, could do nothing about it, someone could stand up and that's it. this is opposed by the left leaning members of board of supervisors, and championed by the business community and some started in lake asbury, fed up with people hanging out with their dogs on the sidewalks. opponents say there's plenty of laws from aggressive panhandling and loitering people could 82 and not doing them. >> that's as far as we go. thank you so much. there are other interesting items. check your ballot in san
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francisco. my thanks to rachel and all of you for joining us here tonight. we'll be devote our entire program to the campaign and ballot measure, friday night, october 22nd. be sure to tune in for that. coming up, a conversation with the authors of california crackup, how reform broke the golden state and how we can fix it.
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we are into a place we can't govern ourselves, we can't make progress on these issues, we know our problems. >> mark, how does that happen? >> largely, because california never had a real founding. the state got -- people came
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here in a hurry with the gold rush. through boom and bust getting rich and never crafted a government equal to the size of the state, the population of the state and keep trying, as joe said, improvised silver bullets of reform, trying to get through a problem to the next boom. we finally reached the end of the line, california has gotten itself a system that's at war with itself j doesn't work because it can't work. it's a very radical improvised system no other state tries to use. >> belva: what are some of the reforms we're talking about here? what do we do? >> our diagnosis is there are three systems, election system designed to produce majorities and consensus governing system for minority rule and this flexible initiative system. we need to take those three systems and integrate them into
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one. we propose and election, different kind of election system that involves a much different shape legislature, unic unicameral, many more people in it that involve multi-districts rather than single member districts to give people the real sense they can change the shape of the legislature and everybody's vote counts. right now, we don't have real legislative elections. we all know today who will win, the democrats and same numbers they have now. >> belva: you agree with that? of course. your book. >> fixing the election system and once we have ha legislature we can hold accountable more representative in california, we can do a second big thing, take out all those two-thirds vote requirements we have about budgets and taxes and school funding guarantees, transportation. one of the reasons we're so
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unhappy with the legislature, we've taken all their flexibility to govern and imposed the two-thirds requirements so the budget just passed and signed today, belongs to nobody. democrats didn't like it, republicans didn't like it, not the governor's budget, a budget that belongs to no one because we require this consensus system. we'd be better off changing the legislature and making it be more accountable and letting the legislature govern. >> belva: those seem like two things near impossible given the structure of the people who have to make the changes. is it possible? is there a way around? >> think it is, doing something california has never done before, start from scratch and look at its system and create something coherent. it's difficult because public opinion is confused, people don't have an understanding how state government, would. i think when you have a system
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this radical that no other state uses and referendum systems no other state or country uses, when people come to understand how strange the status quo is, moving to a system based on ideas and things that work in other place is a pretty moderate simple vanilla thing to do. >> belva: you're talking about elections of a different sort, more people in the legislature. can you explain that a little more what would happen? >> under the current system in the bay area, all senate seats are controlled by democrats because this is a heavily democratic area. republicans in the bay area might as well not vote because they know their votes really don't count. the same is true in reverse in inland areas of california more heavily republican, democrats really don't count. under the kind of system we're talking about, with proportional representation, every vote everywhere counts. if you're a republican in the bay area and come out and vote
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for a republican, it moves your party one bit closer to having an extra seat, possibly control the legislature and vice-versa. the result of our current system now, we have a legislative election next month but nobody's paying any attention it to, they're not focusing on the issues because none of the elections are really competitive. >> belva: why do you say it doesn't count, though? >> it counts in certain terms of who's in the legislature. we know the results already because in california, we're sorted into blue and red -- >> belva: district lines are the culprit? >> part of the culprit and the way we sort ourselves, why choose writing we live in california. a proportional system gets rid of those kinds of problems. >> belva: i think there's an audience out there would like any formula that gets rid of those kind of problems. it's been great to hear your insight what california can do
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to fix itself. thanks so much to both of you. that's all the time we have for this week. next week, climate watch conversation with dan carmen, uc berkeley energy expert named to the world bank. be sure to visit us this week to watch our show online and comment on our stories. thank you so much for watching. i'm belva davis. good night.
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